by Eric Zuesse
Syria’s President, Bashar al-Assad, issued on February 17th, a decree:
…granting a general amnesty for military deserters inside and outside the country and the crimes included in the Military Service Law committed before 17th February 2016.”
This is being done in order to remove one reason why some Syrians are now refugees in foreign countries: their refusal (for whatever reason) to serve in the military:
The decree grants amnesty on the full penalty for those who have deserted outside the country who are included in Article No. 101 of the military Penalties Law issued by Legislative Decree No. 61 for 1950 and its amendments. This decree does not include fugitives from justice unless they turn themselves in within 30 days for those inside the country and 60 for those outside the country.”
However, unless and until the foreign supplies of armaments and jihadists to fight against the government reduces (instead of increasing, such as especially the Saudi and Turkish governments want to do), this decree, the amnesty-offer, won’t have many takers, because anyone who fled in order to avoid military service can then subsequently be called up for military service in the event that the war continues.
Right now, both Saudi Arabia and Turkey seem to be committed to intensifying their invasion of Syria, rather than to reducing or ending it.
Consequently, this decree won’t have much effect unless the Syrian peace process becomes real, which would require as a prerequisite that Saudi Arabia and Turkey halt their plans to overthrow the Assad government.
A step toward reducing the likelihood of a massive Saudi-and-Turkish invasion of Syria was taken on February 18th, when military cooperation between the United States and Russia commenced: Almasdar News headlined, “U.S. has asked Russia not to attack special forces in Syria,” and reported:
The United States has told Russia broad areas in which U.S. special forces are operating in Syria and asked them not to strike there, U.S. military officials said on Thursday.”
A prerequisite for such cooperation to enter into effect would be a promise by the U.S. side not to carry out any operations in Syria that would be unacceptable to Russia, such as assisting the jihadists to overthrow the Assad government. If the United States is providing such assurances (and agrees to allow Syrian and Russian intelligence to monitor U.S. forces’ compliance with it), then both of these news-reports taken together will signify that, in any military conflict between Syria and the Turkish-Saudi forces in Syria, the United States will side with the Russian-Syrian alliance, irrespective of any treaty commitments that might happen to exist within NATO (which includes both the U.S. and Turkey), and the U.S. would be willing, in that case, to break the NATO alliance.
If, on the other hand, the anticipated Saudi-Turkish mass-invasion of Syria occurs, and the United States ends up supporting it, then the avoidance of an all-out war between NATO and Russia would be difficult if not impossible.
Obviously, therefore, the diplomatic activity, and decisions, which occur between the United States and Russia, during the coming days and weeks, will be critically important in order to avoid what could quickly become a nuclear war — which neither side wants.
The specific details of these negotiations are, of course, not being made public by either side. But, whatever they are, future historians (if they will exist) will be very interested to know what they were. Important history is now being made.